Ramadan has just started, which means a month of day-long fasting for New York City Muslims. But when the sun goes down, where are the best places to eat besides the halal cart on the street corner?
As it turns out, you don’t have to travel far in the city to try halal food from many different countries. At Lahore Deli in SoHo, a tiny restaurant that serves Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi food to go, Ammar Ajaz said, “We make a special fruit salad only during Ramadan.”
He brought out a bag of bananas, grapes, cantaloupe, blueberries and dates destined to become the salad. Turkiss, a Turkish restaurant in Greenwich Villege, serves up chicken and lamb gyro wraps and falafel, and a Turkish yogurt drink called ayran.
And just across the street, Kati Roll also offers halal food from India, rolls with egg, meat and paneer. Shantinu Bansal, visiting from Texas, tried the unda chicken roll, which featured griddled eggs and cubes of meat. “I’m used to more spice,” Bansal laughed, “But I can always ask them to add more spice to it.”
But to celebrate breaking the fast with friends and family in a sit down restaurant, Rasa, located just above Washinton Square Park, offers Malaysian food not commonly found in New York. Camie Lai, the manager of Rasa, said that whether or not her restaurant will see more Muslim customers depends largely on the time of the sunset. “Last year was pretty good, the sun went down at 7, people came at 6:30 to order,” she said, “But this year I think the sun sets with a longer day, the sun might go down after 8, and people get tired and just want to go home.”
Rasa offers dates to those breaking their fast, followed by specialty dishes like nasi kerabu, distinctive for the bright blue color of the rice cooked with butterfly-pea flowers. Rasa also serves Thai food and sushi, but Lai wants more people to become familiar with Malaysian food. She said not many people realize her restaurant is halal, but she can always recognize her Muslim customers because they’re regulars.